JACKSON — Republican legislative leaders have unveiled a plan they say boosts accountability at state agencies and spends taxpayer dollars on results.
House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves presented the performance-based budgeting plan, “Building a Better Mississippi,” with the support of members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which Gunn chairs this year. The plan is the first significant effort to fund agency programs based on expectations established by the Legislature.
“We are continuing the fight to make sure that every tax dollar is spent wisely and that the benefit achieved out of every tax dollar is maximized,” Gunn said. “Republicans are changing the way government thinks about spending from, ‘What is government buying’ to ‘What is government accomplishing?’”
Under the leadership of Reeves, Gunn, Sen. Terry Brown (R-Columbus), Rep. Greg Snowden (R-Meridian) and with assistance of Appropriations chairmen Sen. Buck Clarke (R-Hollandale) and Rep. Herb Frierson (R-Poplarville), the Legislature has stopped relying on one-time funds to prop up the budget and spends recurring revenue on recurring expenses.
The plan, spearheaded by Sen. Terry Burton (R-Newton) and Rep. Toby Barker (R-Hattiesburg), initially will target the departments of corrections, education, health and transportation.
Under a 1994 law, Mississippi required agencies to report accomplishments to the budget committee; however, the data collected did not adequately measure the agencies’ effectiveness and efficiencies. Twenty years later, state agencies now have improved reporting systems to measure program effectiveness.